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Gestation

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


For much of my life, I’ve been working toward something, striving to achieve a particular outcome, aspiring to climb the metaphorical ladder to the next level of my life, career, etc. Granted, my white, middle class background shaped this journey and imagery, offering a rough road map to follow about how to successfully scale upward. There was the educational path I followed: from homeschool to high school to college to graduate school, where I pursued my Masters of Divinity. There was the relational path: date different people in high school and college, then eventually get serious with one person, propose (well, not quite that simple, but for brevity’s sake we’ll go with that), get married, and have children. Career wise, I moved from youth and young adult ministry, to serving as a full time minister (even though I wasn’t yet ordained), to a year long internship, to going into a national search process and being called as the Senior Minister of the largest Universalist congregation in the country.


Up until two years ago, I imagined myself retiring from ministry at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. That was the track I was on, the dream I was living, and it was hard to imagine a different arc to my life. But life is deeply mysterious and full of surprise and uncertainty, and I felt something stirring in me, a new dimension of myself wanting to be born. After a sabbatical in New Zealand, I entered a period of discernment, and it soon became clear that life was leading me away from ministry. Other than spending more time with my family, I wasn’t sure what I was being led toward. In June of 2021, I resigned my position at First Universalist. After decades of structure in my life, this newfound freedom was both exhilarating and terrifying.


When I met with my Spiritual Director earlier this year, I shared with her a variety of ideas were percolating about what was next in my life, but nothing concrete was taking shape just yet. At the end of our call, she suggested to me, “You’re in a time of gestation.” Her words really spoke to me.


Over the past 8 months, we have intentionally unhooked ourselves from all the structures and routines of the life that anchored us. We’ve been intentionally “holding space” (in a house on wheels, as we roll around the country!) to listen to where love is calling us next in our lives. “You’re in a time of gestation,” she said. Yes, I thought, something new in us is working to be born. Something is being stitched together during this time on the road. The R.V., this time on the road, these adventures, the not knowing what’s next, it’s all a holding container, a womb, if you will, in which new life is taking shape, is being formed. In this space, I’m learning to be much more comfortable with not having a clear answer to the question of “What are you doing? What’s next? What’s your plan?” Though it’s an imperfect comparison, no one ever asks a pregnant person, “What are you doing? What’s next? What’s your plan?” In the nine months of pregnancy, a miracle is unfolding in the womb, star dust is being formed into limbs and lungs, arms that will reach and hug, laughter that will ring out. Nothing is required other than to notice that something is happening. In this context, the questions, “What’s next? What’s are you doing?” are absurd.


In my moments of fear or uncertainty about what’s next, I remember that creation stories and the womb have a lot in common. Something is happening in the watery darkness of the womb and in the waters of creation in the Genesis story. In the whooshing swirl of amniotic fluid, in the waters that cover the deep of the earth, the Sprit of Life is stirring, creating, forming, shaping, and aligning. It may not be visible, or even obvious what is happening, and thus, whether it’s the womb, or a story of creation, one must have faith. Out of the tohu wa-bohu (Hebrew for "wild, stormy mess," something like a blinding snowstorm), out of the chaos and confusion, something will emerge; life is stirring; something will be born. But it happens on a timeline not dictated by human wants, desire, or will.


Gestation requires patience, waiting, quiet, faith, and trust.

In a culture that wants everything fast – its food, its internet, its Interstate driving speeds – and wants it in short, understandable, simplistic sound bytes, gestation is confusing, is unorthodox, is not something to be controlled, is holy.


Our family is in a season of gestation. We are in a womb of our own creation, a womb outside of our old lives; we are trusting that new versions of ourselves will emerge, and be born out of this experience. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that we plan to be on the road for nine months. By June, 2022, is it possible, that we will be "reborn," alive to a new life? Gestation won’t be rushed, or forced, but all evidence suggests that it can be trusted. And so we trust and we gestate. We gestate in Mexico. We gestate in YOLO (the name of our R.V.), as we roll down the road. We gestate by slowing the pace of our lives down, by dreaming, by holding space for spirit to work its miracle and magic on our lives, uncomfortable as it is. We gestate in this wild chapter of our lives, awaiting the birth of the next chapter. We gestate.


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